Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) was a guest on CBS’s Face the Nation with host Bob Schieffer on Sunday, and the conversation of course focused on the upcoming Presidential campaign, of which Walker is a leading GOP candidate.
Schieffer used a quote from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as the launching off point for his conversation with Governor Walker.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I talked with former secretary of defense Robert Gates and asked him what he thinks of the would-be Presidents so far.
ROBERT GATES: Most of these candidates have no experience in foreign policy.
Governor Walker didn’t necessarily agree with Secretary Gates and Schieffer on the foreign policy issue, but the GOP lack of experience on that front wasn’t as important as they thought, according to Walker, because Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy ideas had been such a tremendous failure.
I do think that if foreign policy plays an important role; the contrast will be clear because everywhere, just about everywhere that Hillary Clinton has played a role with this President, under President Obama, that part of the world is largely a failure, a mess, because of the policies that we’ve seen from Obama and Clinton.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We will have more from Bob Gates later, including his take on Hillary Clinton. But now to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, one of the Republicans exploring a run in 2016. He’s in Iowa this morning. Governor, welcome. Well, you just heard Secretary Gates not exactly complimentary to the Republican field thus far but does he have a point?
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (R-Wisconsin): Well, I think foreign policy is going to be an important part along with talking about growth, helping grow the economy, and helping reform the federal government by taking power from Washington and sending it back to the states. But I talk to people all the time. We’re just in La Crosse, Wisconsin, yesterday at my state party convention, last night at the Iowa Republican party event. And I got to tell you one of the areas where people talked to me about is the safety and security of this country and our allies around the world. So I do think it’s going to be an important issue. If I choose to get into this race, it’s something I’m going to weigh on a very clear plan from what we should do going forward and how we should address the issues we face here in America and the issues we face around the world. So I think there’s a wide open door to lay out a very clear doctrine. And I do think that if foreign policy plays an important role, the contrast will be clear because everywhere, just about everywhere that Hillary Clinton has played a role with this President, under President Obama, that part of the world is largely a failure a mess because of the policies that we’ve seen from Obama and Clinton.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you- you’ve have just come back from Israel. But let me just ask you, what would you list as your foreign policy credentials?
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: Well, I think as a governor it’s really ultimately about leadership. To me, in my lifetime one of the best presidents when it comes to foreign policy was a governor from California. In my lifetime one of the worst presidents when it comes to foreign policy was a freshman senator from Illinois. So I think it’s not just about past experiences, it’s about leadership. As a– as a governor you have to put a cabinet in place, and, hopefully, you pick people that are smarter than you on any given topic. I think that’s something that’s required of a successful President is putting people in place, be it Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, Secretary of State and others. And then having the good sense to listen to them and to others and the chain of command in the military, consulting with the Congress. All those sorts of things I think are important of a President. And I think successful governors in either party have to do that every single day–consult with people in their cabinet and act. The most beyond that as– as a governor I have been to just recently in Germany, and Spain, and France, earlier in the year was in United Kingdom on trade-related missions. Few years back in China and Japan. So that’s probably the most that any governor of either party has is that experience in terms of trade relations, and something I think it’s very important not just to our states, it’s important to our country.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, Jeb Bush, and you just heard what Secretary Gates said. He was a governor, but he had kind of a hard time it seems to me answering that question of would he have gone into Iraq had he known what we all now know and he gave about four different answers. By the end of the week he said, well, no, he wouldn’t have. What do you have to say about that? Did that surprise you?
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: I tend to agree with Secretary Gates. We should really be talking about the challenges we face going forward. But– but I did stand up and defend the President– President Bush that is as saying, I think any President, regardless of party probably would have made a similar decision to what President Bush did at the time with the information he had available. Remember even Secretary of State then Senator Clinton voted for measures supporting the Iraq war. I think it was a failure in many cases in the intelligence that was given to the President and to the Congress at the time. Knowing what we know now I think it’s safe many of us, myself included, to say we probably wouldn’t have taken that tact. But I give credit to the President for recognizing the challenges, for being responsible for the surge, listening to those in Congress who were pushing for that. That was highly successful. And I also think it’s important to learn from the fact that this President and the advisors he had like Secretary Clinton I think made a mistake by urging the country to pull back from our state in Iraq and we have a place that’s largely destabilized now because of their quick move on the last few years to get out of Iraq. That’s something we need to learn from going forward. We have a very destabilized region and we need to have a strong presence there.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about something that you said previously. You told a gathering that the most significant foreign policy decision of your lifetime was Ronald Reagan’s ending of the 1981 air traffic controller strike. You said it sent a message not only across America, it sent a message around the world. Don’t you think there may have been a few things while I agree that that was a significant development, a few things maybe a little more important like the Nixon’s opening to China, for example, the decision to go after Osama bin Laden. Do you really think that was the most significant foreign policy statement of your lifetime?
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: Well, I think those were all important things. Don’t get me wrong in that regard. But this is not something I hold alone. Former Secretary of State George Shultz said that that was the most significant action during the– the Reagan administration. I came of age during the– the– the Reagan administration. I was I think I believe just turned thirteen two days before his election in 1980. And for me, looking at that kind of leadership, he set the tone, not just domestically with that action; he sent a message around the world as– as you just read off, I think not only to our allies, this is– was someone who was serious that that could be trusted. But in combination with our adversaries, they sent a clear message, not to mess with him. You– you’d combine that clear leadership position he took early in his administration with the buildup in the military, much like we need today to get back to a minimum, at least to Gates’ level budget for the Department of Defense. You combine that to what he did in the eighties with the leadership he showed earlier on his term. And that’s why I believe, in many regards, we had one of the lowest levels of military engagement, not because the President– President Reagan was afraid to engage but because our adversaries knew he would if needed; and I think that made for a safer world that was peace through strength, personified.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you quickly about the Iran negotiations. You’re ready to stop the negotiations, as I understand it. What do you see as the alternative?
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: Well, I think if we’re going to have negotiations, we should have them on our terms, not on theirs. To me we need to dismantle the elicit nuclear infrastructure they have that has to be clear. It’s a real threat not just to Israel. I’ve talked to leaders from the Persian Gulf states, the Sunni states who have very real concerns in that regard. Secondly, they need to provide full disclosure, transparency, and immediate ability to inspect, which I don’t think we fully have right now under those the parameters of the supposed deal. And third, we need to make sure that they deal with others in the region. That Iran, in many ways, it’s not much different than the country. I remember as a kid when I tied yellow ribbons around the tree in front of our house. When Americans were held hostage, people like my friend Kevin Hermening from Wausau, Wisconsin, who was the youngest marine held there I don’t see a lot changing. They need to learn to deal with others in the region. I think you’ve seen their influence in terms of Shiite militias, not only in Iraq, but, obviously, their involvement in Syria, now with the Houthis in Yemen. Those are the sorts of things we need to crackdown on.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. All right. And one final question. When are you going to make the decision on whether or not to run?
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: My state budget will be completed by the end of June. It’s something I am focused on every day, completing another budget with the fifth and sixth year or property tax relief on. Once that’s complete at the end of June, we’ll announce our intentions to our state, to our country and the world and we’ll keep you posted.